The line stretched the entire length of the hanger – a grey warehouse that once stored massive sailboats for San Francisco’s premier sailing event. Like cattle we were lead through fencing and partitions that seemed to have the unintended effect of making us more tenacious. We wanted to jump and run – whatever it took to get closer to Fred.
The lights dimmed signaling Fred Again’s arrival and the crowd surged like a river overflowing its banks. People screamed with joy and terror. Surely, the warehouse would burst at its seams leaving a trail of toppled millennials in high tops and neon tanks.
The vessel was indeed too small. We were clobbered with bass but could barely make out vocals or synths. We jumped up and down to “We Lost Dancing,” but it was mostly just an outpouring of excitement about what the song meant to us. Isolation, a loss of connection, the feeling of being close to someone.
We were disappointed, but it was also clear that something was happening. Fred’s brand of music – charactized by his blend of soul and house – was infecting anyone who came in close contact. I walked off the hours of dancing and took refuge in my dark living room to listen to the live set Fred dropped during the pandemic, a beautiful compilation of songs that is part James Blake, part Swedish House Mafia – and was bowled over at how his music speaks so clearly about mental health.
Say what you want about the millennial generation and our spoiled nature – never have humans been so doted on by technological ease – but we really haven’t been dealt an easy hand. The negativity that pervades society – whether it’s politics, greed, or the planet – certainly colors our experience. The planet is dying. People hate each other. Drug abuse is rampant. Even the most optimistic of us can’t help but wonder where this experiment went off the rails.
Fred Again’s music is surely a reaction to this undercurrent. He doesn’t deny the atmosphere of negativity – it seems woven into every bar of his music. But it also seems to fuel his creativity like a plant turning sunlight into food. And the hope is that this ancient wisdom – that pain can actually be beautiful – is delivering a crucial message to our generation: you can still find hope in music.